The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Oscar S. Straus, February 15th, 1889


New York, Feb. 15, 1889.

Your brother tells me that you wish to return home as soon as possible, and I need not say that your friends will be glad to have you here again. The political situation, you will find, is not as pleasing as might be desired. That Blaine will be Secretary of State is generally accepted as certain. What complications his occupying a position of so much power will lead to, nobody can now foretell. It is also generally believed that Mr. Wanamaker of Philadelphia will have a place in the Cabinet, and I must confess that I look upon this as one of the worst developments of these days. He may be ever so good a man and make ever so efficient a Secretary of the Navy or Postmaster-General, still it remains true that the only distinction he ever achieved in public life was won as a contributor and collector of campaign funds, and that, but for this achievement, he would never have been thought of as a man entitled to high office in the Government. And thus it may be said that now for the first time in the history of this Republic a place in the Cabinet of the President was given for a pecuniary consideration. This is a portentous fact, and nobody can tell what we shall come to, what depth of corruption we shall reach, unless this tendency be stopped.

It appears, however, that the popular mind is gradually becoming alive to what this all means, and that a healthy movement for the reëstablishment of higher standards of public morality is impending. There is reason for hoping that we shall soon have legislation in the direction of ballot-reform and against the corrupt use of money in elections in a majority of the States. As a matter of course our Commonwealth Club is up and doing again.